That (abandoning hives) is bizarre. I'd have to guess something bad happened to the beekeeper to keep him from responding (check the obits? :shock:). It makes no sense for someone to just abandon their hives, especially someone in the pollination biz.
If all else fails, I'll remove them, for free
. :-D Where in Cali?
My fear is the hives won't make it back through the Mojave Desert alive on their way to New Mexico.
As long as you leave them open, properly-ventilated (maybe keep on the move thru the desert & at night, if possible) ~ they should be fine. I'd be more worried about them swarming in the two weeks prior to your arrival (assuming they are healthy hives).